23 SES 13 C, Tackling Early School Leaving in Europe: an Evaluation of School-based Practices (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 23 SES 14 C
Tackling Early School Leaving in Europe: an evaluation of school-based practices
This symposium discusses different measures and policies that are implemented by schools to tackle early school leaving. It builds on the project Reducing Early School Leaving in the EU (RESL.eu, www.resl-eu.org, financed by the EU commission FP7, 2013-2018), involving 9 EU member states: Belgium, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Austria and Hungary. The findings are based upon new empirical qualitative data collected and analyzed during the period September 2014 - May 2015.
Early school leaving (ESL) remains high on the EU policy agenda as the EU2020 target aims to reduce the ESL rate to less than 10%. Those youngsters categorized as ESL are defined as individuals leaving education before attaining their ISCED 3 level qualification of upper secondary education. While some member states have reached this target, large disparities remain between and within EU member states. Therefore, as the latest joint Eurydice and Cedefop Report (November, 2014) argues, it is important to bring the policy agreements from a few years ago back into the spotlight: In June 2011, education ministers agreed on a ‘framework for coherent, comprehensive, and evidence-based policies’ to tackle early leaving (Eurydice and Cedefop Report, 2014: 7). This symposium focuses primarily on the particularity of such evidence-based policies tackling ESL within schools.
As argued in several policy documents, policies often can be categorized on the level of prevention, intervention or compensation (TWG, 2013:18). While the first two can be situated before the event (of ESL) the latter is to be situated after the actual early school leaving. In this symposium we focus on prevention and intervention policies and measures designed and implemented within the school environment and targeting those students that are perceived at risk of ESL. Rather than listing specific (good) practices the Resl.eu project tries to evaluate and understand why specific projects and measures seem to work or not. To make this evaluation the project applies an adapted theory-driven stakeholder evaluation. This approach relies upon an analysis of (school) policy documents and qualitative data collection rather than on a pre- and post-evaluation of ongoing projects.
Based upon this twofold methodology, we try to understand why certain policies are designed and implemented and how they are perceived and experienced by those it targets. Based on the analysis of (school) policy documents and by doing interviews with school management staff, their implicit and explicit theories on why a specific measure or policy is designed, becomes comprehensible. By doing focus group discussions with other school staff (teaching and support staff members), and focus group discussions and face to face interviews with students, the Resl.eu-project tries to understand how these projects and measures are implemented by staff and how they are experienced by the target group of students (at risk of ESL). The assumption of this approach and evaluation is that the more the implicit and explicit theories about the causes of ESL and the measures/ policy needed to tackle ESL of the designers (management staff), implementers (teaching and support staff) and recipients (at risk students) are congruent and correspond, the better results measures can generate.
Bourdieu, Pierre, and Jean-Claude Passeron. 1977. Reproduction in Education, Society, and Culture. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Coleman, James S. 1966. Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Driessen, Geert. 2001. Ethnicity, Forms of Capital, and Educational Achievement, International Review of Education, 47, 513–537. Lamb, Stephen, Markussen, Eifred, Teese, Richard, Sandberg, Nina and Polesel, John. 2011. (eds.) School Dropout and Completion: international comparative studies in theory and policy. Dordrecht-Heidelberg-London-New York: Springer NESSE. 2010. Early School Leaving , Lessons from research for policy makers. An independent expert report submitted to the European Commission . Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Reay, Diane. 2004. “Education and Cultural Capital: The Implications of Changing Trends in Education Policies.” Cultural Trends 13(2):73– 86.
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